By Shaheen Sehbai
ISLAMABAD: Intense search has begun in political and media circles to find out who is the father of the Pakistan Army and ISI-specific conditions in the Kerry-Lugar Bill, which ultimately led to the assertive statement issued by the 122nd corps commanders’ meeting on Wednesday. But the search will not be too difficult.
All fingers point to the Pakistani lobbyists in Washington who were hired by the Pakistan Embassy after thePPP government came into power in 2008. These lobbyists, including Mark A Siegel and Cassidy and Associates, were supposed to work for Pakistan and were paid million of dollars, but they were actually lobbying against Pakistan and were trying to get anti-Pakistan conditions inserted in the Kerry-Lugar Bill.
Experts, who know Washington, say the lobbyists do only what their client tells them. In the case of the Kerry-Lugar Bill, the client has been the Pakistan Embassy, so the buck will have to stop at the Pakistani mission in Washington DC.
But according to one expert, the details of all these Army-specific conditions were spelled out in a well-publicised book published by a Pakistani scholar-cum-journalist-cum-diplomat, way back in January 2006.
The language in which the scholar, Husain Haqqani, now Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington and the main proponent of the Kerry-Lugar Bill, had urged Washington to put these conditions on Pakistan would shock everyone, when read in today’s context.
For instance, the book ëPakistan between Mosque and Militaryي states categorically that “the United States must use its aid as a lever to influence Pakistan’s domestic policies.” The book states: “Washington should no longer condone the Pakistani military’s support of Islamic militants, its use of its intelligence apparatus for controlling domestic politics, and its refusal to cede power to a constitutional democratic government.”
At another place the book says: “Because Washington has attached a few conditions to US aid, the spending patterns of Pakistan’s government have not changed significantly. The country’s military spending continues to increase…”
On pages 327 to 329, Haqqani says: “Unlike governments in other Muslim countries like Egypt and Turkey, Pakistan’s government – particularly its military – has encouraged political and radical Islam, which otherwise has a relatively narrow base of support. Democratic consensus on limiting or reversing Islamisation would gradually roll back the Islamist influence in Pakistani public life. Islamists would maintain their role as a minority pressure group representing a particular point of view, but they would stop wielding their current disproportionate influence over the country’s overall direction.
“The United States can help contain the Islamists’ influence by demanding reform of those aspects of Pakistan’s governance that involve the military and security services. Until now, the United States has harshly berated corrupt or ineffective Pakistani politicians but has only mildly criticised the military’s meddling. Between 1988 and 1999, when civilians ostensibly governed Pakistan, US officials routinely criticised the civilians’ conduct but refrained from commenting on the negative role of the military and the intelligence services despite overwhelming evidence of that role. ISI manipulation of the 1988, 1990, and 1997 elections went unnoticed publicly by the United States while the Pakistan military’s recitation of politicians’ failings was generally accepted without acknowledging the impacts of limits set for the politicians by the military. The United States appears to accept the Pakistani military’s falsified narrative of Pakistan’s recent history, at least in public. It is often assumed that the military’s intervention in politics is motivated by its own concern over national security and the incompetence of politicians. That the military might be a contributor to political incompetence and its desire to control national security policies might be a function of its pursuit of domestic political power are hardly ever taken into account.
“Washington should no longer condone the Pakistani military’s support of Islamic militants, its use of its intelligence apparatus for controlling domestic politics, and its refusal to cede power to a constitutional democratic government. As an aid donor, Washington has become one of Pakistan’s most important benefactors, but a large part of US economic assistance since September 11, 2001 has been used to pay down Pakistan’s foreign debt. Because Washington has attached a few conditions to US aid, the spending patterns of Pakistan’s government have not changed significantly. The country’s military spending continues to increase, and spending for social services is well below the level required to improve living conditions for ordinary Pakistanis. The United States must use its aid as a lever to influence Pakistan’s domestic policies. Even though Musharraf’s selective cooperation in hunting down Al-Qaeda terrorists is a positive development, Washington must not ignore Pakistan’s state sponsorship of Islamist militants, its pursuit of nuclear weapons and missiles at the expense of education and healthcare, and its refusal to democratise; each of these issues is directly linked to the future of Islamic radicalism.
“The United States clearly has a few good short-term policy options in relation to Pakistan. American policymakers should endeavour to recognise the failings of their past policies and avoid repeating their mistakes. The United State has sought short-term gains from its relationship with Pakistan, inadvertently accentuating that country’s problems in the process. Pakistan’s civil and military elite, on the other hand, must understand how their three-part paradigm for state and nation building has led Pakistan from one disaster to the next. Pakistan was created in a hurry and without giving detailed thought to various aspects of national and state building. Perhaps it is time to rectify that mistake by taking a long-term view. Both Pakistan’s elite and their US benefactors would have to participate in transforming Pakistan into a functional, rather than ideological, state.”
Once these considered suggestions and proposals made by the current Pakistan ambassador are analysed in today’s context, there will be few left who would continue to search for the source of the insulting conditions which the Kerry-Lugar Bill has imposed on Pakistan.